Why you should be eating more UK shellfish

2 minute read

Evie Martin, Media Relations Manager

18 Jun 2021

Farmed shellfish are an ocean-friendly, environmentally responsible seafood choice, rated Best Choice on the Good Fish Guide. However, due to changes post-Brexit, the UK shellfish industry is facing new challenges, and we’ve decided to speak up for them.

The UK’s biggest market for shellfish is Europe, particularly for blue mussels, our biggest shellfish export. However, Brexit has meant that this has become much more tricky due to new regulations.

Our Good Fish Guide rates two types of mussels: blue mussels and Chilean mussels, but only blue mussels are farmed in the UK.

Ratings for the Good Fish Guide are produced by careful research and are rigorously reviewed by scientists. You can find out more about how we rate seafood here.

What makes blue mussels Best Choice?

Blue mussels can either be farmed or harvested from the wild, but we’d recommend looking out for farmed mussels – these are a Best Choice seafood, like most farmed shellfish.

Shellfish are able to get all the food they need out of the surrounding water as it flows past, and so don’t require any additional food. They also absorb carbon from the water, locking it in their shells and preventing it from entering the atmosphere where it would contribute to global warming, making them an effective blue carbon store.

Farmed shellfish, like rope grown mussels, provide a unique habitat that reports have shown increase the biodiversity of the surrounding waters, providing a home for other species such as fish.

All these fantastic benefits and we haven’t even started on the nutritional benefits of eating this locally grown produce!

Ironically, UK consumers don’t eat much shellfish on home shores; we tend to wait until we go on holiday abroad to tuck into moules frites. Mussels are really easy to cook at home and could make for an extra special weekend meal…why not try this Steamed mussels with bay and chilli recipe?

If you decide to flex your culinary mussels(!), be sure to share your recipes with us using #GoodFishGuide on Instagram @GoodFishGuide or in our Facebook group.


Credit: Photo by Nicolay Smeh on Unsplash

The UK shellfish industry is at stake!

Since we left the EU, UK shellfish can no longer be sold to EU countries during the harvesting season, due to Europe’s restrictions on non-EU countries water quality.

Before Brexit the UK exported mussels would be put in a filtration system and sold to European consumers. This is no longer permitted and as a result, UK shellfish producers have lost their biggest market and are facing closure.

We’ve written to UK Ministers asking them to intervene to prevent these businesses from collapse. Offshore Shellfish, a pioneering independent company farming blue mussels between 3-6 miles offshore in South Devon; is one of those facing this challenge.

Dawn Purchase, our Aquaculture Programme Manager said, “UK shellfish holds so much potential to provide us with delicious and healthy seafood choice, in a way that can be both environmentally responsible and climate smart. This is why we cannot face Offshore Shellfish, or indeed any UK shellfish business going under.”

We’ve taken action as we believe Best Choice seafood from the Good Fish Guide is an essential part of our future, providing a nutritious protein with a low environmental impact.

Take a closer look at the Good Fish Guide to find out more about Blue Mussels.

Rigorously researched ratings

Every Good Fish Guide rating is carefully researched to help you choose sustainable seafood. Get started by searching for your favourite seafood.